Broad Brings New
Art and Style
To Downtown LA
Story & photographs by Greg Aragon
ove over a little bit Walt Disney Concert Hall; there is a new iconic
building and tourist attraction in Downtown Los Angeles and it is one
awesome piece of work. Costing about $140 million to build, The Broad
contemporary art museum is a giant honeycomb-looking structure housing
2,000 masterpieces from around the world.
The mega-gallery, which opened to the public on September
20, was developed by philanthropists and longtime art collectors Eli
and Edythe Broad. "We built this collection and this museum so
that contemporary art could be accessible to all," says Eli Broad.
The Broad museum is a giant honeycomb-looking structure
housing 2,000 masterpieces from around the world (picture
courtesy of The Broad)
Located on Grand Avenue, in the art and cultural center
of LA, The Broads unique and innovative design by Diller Scofidio
+ Renfro along with Gensler, rivals the shimmering, wavy architecture
of it neighbor, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was created by Frank
"We wanted something that would not clash with
Walt Disney Concert Hall, but we didn't want it to be anonymous either
and we found just what we were looking for in the design," said
Eli Broad, when construction on the project began two years ago.
(left to right) Architect Elizabeth Diller; Joanne
Heyler director and curator of The Broad; Philanthropist Eli Broad;
and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti celebrate construction of the new
What the architect created was a unique, three-story
"vault-and-veil" design, with a strong, concrete and glass
base surrounded by a flowing, honeycomb-shaped exterior component. With
this style, the museum contrasts Disney's shiny and smooth metallic
finish by being porous and brittle and bringing in lots of natural light.
The exterior "veil" of the building is a structural
exoskeleton comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete panels
and 650 tons of steel that drape over The Broad and appear to lift up
at two corners to expose street-level entrances. A highlight of the
honeycomb exterior is the "oculus," located in the center
of the building on the Grand Avenue side. This architectural feature
is a huge, curved indentation in the side of the building, making it
look like it was hit by a giant golf ball.
Once the public enters The Broad they are transported
upward by a 105-ft escalator (picture courtesy of The
The 120,000-sq-ft, three-story museum building houses
nearly the entire Broad collection, while providing 15,000 sq-ft of
exhibition space on the ground floor and 35,000 sq-ft of column-free
space on the third floor, with filtered natural light from skylights
The "vault" component of the building is the
heart of the interior, where the museum stores its overflow of world-class
art. The heavy, opaque volume of the "vault" is always in
view, hovering midway in the building. Its carved underside shapes the
lobby below and the public circulation routes.
Once the public enters The Broad from the street level,
they are transported upward by a 105-ft escalator, tunneling through
the vault toward the light above to arrive onto the third-floor gallery.
Visitors then descend through the vault via a winding stair that offers
glimpses into the vast holdings of the collection through overlook windows
into storage areas.
"Our goal has been to honor the responsibilities
of the museum as a collecting institution by making the curatorial functions
visible front and center," says Elizabeth Diller, principal-in-charge
of Diller Scofidio + Renfro. "The porous exoskeleton that we call
the veil admits filtered natural daylight, channeling light into the
public spaces and galleries."
The exterior "veil" of the building is
a structural exoskeleton comprised of 2,500 fiberglass reinforced concrete
panels (picture courtesy of The Broad)
Besides the art inside the building, the construction
of the new museum also brought improvements to the streetscape on Grand
Avenue and the construction of public amenities such as a 24,000-sq-ft
public plaza, landscaped with a grove of 100-year-old Barouni olive
trees and a tilted lawn; a new mid-block crosswalk and planted median,
connecting The Broad on the west side of Grand Avenue with MOCA and
the Colburn School on the east; and a pair of wide stairs and an elevator
connecting the plaza with the planned Hope Street Metro Regional Connector
Rail station at 2nd Street.
At the western end of the plaza will be Otium, a new
free-standing restaurant developed by Bill Chait and Chef Timothy Hollingsworth
that will open later this fall. The Broad has also constructed a 155,000-sq-ft,
three-story, 344-space, subterranean parking garage.
The Broad is located at is located at 221 S. Grand Avenue,
Los Angeles, CA, 90012. For more information on visiting, call 213-232-6200
or visit www.thebroad.org
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